As I’m sitting here, going through piles and piles of stock footage from our September 2012 trailer shoot. I came across this gem. It depicts German soldiers of the Heer (Army) falling back in the wake of an organized Soviet counter-attack on their trenches. Special thanks goes to the reenactors of 5th Kompanie GD and The 95th Rifles, two premier Eastern Front reenacting groups in the Midwestern United States. Be sure to check out their respective sites below!
Anyways, back to sorting files! Take a gander at the below footage, which was shot by one of our production assistants. It may be a tad shaky, but there’s some pretty compelling images there.
We’ve all been pretty busy here at THE VANQUISHED. Between putting the final touches on our first trailer, to further researching first-person partisan accounts, it’s been a hard-charging past few months. We had a series of training weekends since last Fall and we wanted to share a few images from behind-the-scenes. Our crew of extras (both Soviets and Germans) adopted the mindset of their proper Russian/German characters with ease. From Southwest Illinois, to the backwoods of Tennessee, we had a variety of locations available to to our cameras. Stay tuned for more images and some rough-cut footage!
Now, if you don’t mind me, I think there’s another screenplay that’s calling my name!
The German commanders after being whittled down by Red Army attacks.
And our valiant German defenders after the day’s action.
Our Red Army extras at the conclusion of a tactical exercise in Waverly, Tennessee.
A German officer giving orders from the front lines.
Members of 5 KP GD (Including Producers Adam Bednar & Richard Russo) cause for a moment after a training exercise.
Soviet forces wait under cover for the Germans to advance.
German infantry, supported by an armored car, readying to move out
Our expertly camouflaged anti-tank gun.
Moving the anti-tank gun into position.
A palace fit for a king?
Soldiers of 5 KP GD move out in an all-original 1939 Horch vehicle.
Our rudimentary sleeping quarters for a weekend, the trail legs of an anti-tank gun.
In the opening months of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, tens of thousands of Red Army soldiers were killed, wounded, and captured. Entire armies were encircled and destroyed as Hitler’s tanks plunged hundreds of miles into the heart of Russia. Almost the entire Soviet tank corps was destroyed in the first months of the war. And by the end of 1941, German troops were poised at the gates of Moscow, ready to deliver a final knock-out blow.
But out of this defeat, countless Soviet citizens rose up and fought back. Many were farmers, laborers and housewives, but many more came from cultured backgrounds. Popular notions of guerilla fighters evokes images of tall, bearded Cossack men crawling through the woods to take pot-shots at passing German soldiers. Yet, a closer examination of partisan activity in Western Russia shows that many urban Russians, well-educated and well-read, traveled to the backwoods of the country to fight the invader.
Ivan Sergeyev is a composite of those privileged Russians that stepped down from their posts to serve the Motherland. His story, though tragic, is reflective of experiences many had to endure on the Eastern Front of World War Two.
Ivan & Anna Meet For the First Time
Born to parents Arkady and Kati, Ivan grew up in a privileged Russian family. His father, serving as a customs official at the St. Petersburg Docks, served Czar Nicholas II, collecting duties on shipments from the Baltic Sea. He was highly educated at St. Petersburg University and well-respected by his peers. As part of his responsibilities, he traveled extensively across the Russian-Finnish border to track outstanding payments on cargo shipments. It was through his travels in Scandinavia that he met his future wife, Kati Rahikainen. A traditional peasant woman from the countryside, Arkady was attracted to her simple nature and work ethic (values similarly prized by Russian suitors).
The two were soon married and moved into the bustling city of Kuokkala, a true melting pot of Russian-Finnish culture on the outskirts of St. Petersburg. At the onset of the Great War in 1914, Ivan’s father was ordered oversee the logistics of fulfilling munitions quotas bound for the Eastern Front. As the Czar mobilized millions of soldiers, the city (now Petrograd) became a major staging point for arms, ammunition and new recruits. This work kept Arkady busy and he was able to save enough money for his future children to attend university. At home, Kati would give birth to three sons during the height of the war: Pytor, Ivan, and Vasili .
Ivan was a bright and energetic child, but preferred to stay indoors while his brothers played outdoors. As he grew up, Ivan was consumed with traditional Russian folk tales that his Mother would tell each night before bed. His father was absent during much of his childhood, but he cherished the time he spent with him. Duty to one’s country, regardless of your upbringing was a supremely important ideal to Arkady. He used every chance to ingrain this value in his sons.
As the war turned into a calamity, Arkady and Kati tried to shelter their sons as best as they could from the civil unrest gripping the city. Vladimir Lenin began publicly attacking the regime and called for Russian workers to overthrow the Czar. By 1917, the military situation on the Russian Front had completely disintegrated. Petrograd, now a hotbed of Communist unrest, was threatened by bombardment as the German Army crept ever closer. Kati pulled her children out of public life and began to home school them, fearing that roving bands of Leninist thugs would discover their father’s post.
Workers March to Protest Czar Nicholas II, Petrograd, circa 1917.
On October 25th 1917, Arkady, fleeing from the Petrograd docks after witnessing his fellow customs officials attacked by mobs, hurried back home to protect his family. Caught by Red Army soldiers, he was executed on a side street, mere blocks away from his home. Fearing the worst, Kati and the children fled into the countryside, taking refuge with a sympathetic Finnish farmer.
Red Army Soldiers Under Lenin Battle the Czar's Police.
When Red Army soldier patrolled the areas around Petrograd for Czarist officials, Kati was able to pass herself and her sons off as Finnish refugees. For the few next years, the family lived in constant fear for their lives as the White Army battled the Bolsheviks across the country. Ivan developed a deep hatred for the Soviets when the family finally learned the circumstances of Arkady’s death. His brothers did their best to support Kati during this troubling time. With the establishment of the Soviet Union and Lenin’s death, the family moved back to the city, now called Leningrad. They erased all their ties to the “Old Order” and maintained the appearance of Finnish-Russians laborers.
Despising the new Communist system, the Sergeyevs were forced to play the part of hard-working Bolsheviks. Kati took up a job as a switchboard operator in downtown Petrograd and her children were sent to the newly established schools run by the Soviet state. Ivan distinguished himself as a star pupil, excelling in history and Latin. As he and his brothers became teenagers, they were forced to pay lip-service to the new regime under Stalin. Ivan was impressed with the economic and military advancements under Stalin, but was nowhere as enthusiast as Pytor and Vasili. Both joined the growing work force and became valued factory workers during the Second Five Year Plan (1933-1937).
Ivan sought further intellectual stimulation and reminded Kati the value his father had placed on education. Using the money that Arkady had stashed away during the Revolution, Ivan enrolled in Leningrad State University in 1935, becoming the star student of the philosophy department. The ever-present influence of Soviet propaganda permeated the university, and several of Ivan’s professors were “questioned” by the NKVD due to their questioning of Stalin’s rule. In late 1937, as Finnish-Russian relations broke down, Pytor crossed the border and joined the Finnish Social Democratic Party in 1938. This had a profound impact on Kati, who slid into a deep depression.
By the final year of Ivan’s studies in 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Non-Aggression Pact, precluding the chance of war between the two nations. Ivan was predominately concerned with finishing his thesis defense as Russian troops poured into Poland. The nation was divided up between Hitler and Stalin within months. Ivan privately confided to his mother and admonished the military action. He was just as patriotic as any other Russian, but saw no excuse for the invasion of a sovereign nation.
At the same time, Stalin began amassing troops near Finland, determined to reclaim former Czarist lands. Vasili joined a recently purged infantry unit stationed outside Leningrad. Ivan was conflicted as to his allegiances, supporting revitalized Russia that Stalin had created, but disapproved on its aggressive foreign policy. Soviet forces poured into Finland in November 1939, but were halted by determined Finnish resistance. Kati frantically sent letters home to family members to discover her son’s whereabouts, but never received a response. After nearly a year of fighting and horrendous losses on both sides, the Stalin sued for peace in March 1940. Pyotr’s fate remained unknown.
A Russian Convoy Ambushed by The Finnish Army, circa 1940.
Over the next year, Vasili rose in rank in the Red Army and was certified as a tank gunner in early 1941. Kati pleaded with him not to leave, but he was unmoved by her pleas and was stationed outside Minsk that spring. Ivan began his graduate studies at university, teaching courses in political theory and philosophy. Dismayed that his family was falling apart, he dedicated himself to his studies and visiting his mother every day.
The German invasion came as yet another shock to the Sergeyevs. War fervor struck the Leningrad, and scores of university students dropped out en masse to serve for the Motherland. Ivan remained back, conflicted what to do. He saw the attack as unwarranted, but couldn’t leave his mother in such a delicate state. Vasili’s unit moved to counter the German attack on Minsk, but all resistance was quickly swept aside. When Kati learned the news, she knew she had lost another son. Ivan suspended his studies in September 1941, amid the rapid German advance towards Leningrad. With the city in a panic, he tried to pay his way out of the city amid thousands of refugees. However, Red Army soldiers had cordoned the entire area off as a military district. Relief came when the remaining faculty and staff of the university were evacuated en route to Saratov, well behind Russian lines.
Leningrad Refugees Scrounge for Food, circa 1942.
Ivan and Kati joined the long column of Red Army soldiers and civilians streaming down to Moscow. They were separated from the university staff amid the frantic atmosphere in the capital and left stranded. By December, Leningrad was besieged and the Germans were within striking distance of Moscow. Still seeking passage out of the city, Ivan tried to use his influence as an academic to find a way to reach Saratov, but to no avail. On New Year’s Day, 1942, Kati was killed when a stray German shell struck the subway station in which she was hiding, burying her beneath tons of rubble. Ivan was now isolated in Moscow and unsure of what to do.
As the Red Army pushed the Germans back from the city, Ivan searched for a new purpose. He was wandering one of Moscow’s central squares when he came across a department store window calling for partisan volunteers. Idealized as the new heroes of the Soviet Union, Ivan decided to join, not so much to serve the Communist system, but to avenge the deaths of Vasili and his mother. In May 1942, The Central Headquarters of The Partisan Movement was established, and eagerly began accepting new recruits.
Ivan was trained to use small arms and explosives, and proved to be an adept navigator. His group was hurriedly rushed to the Khom District in Western Russia. The partisan band ambushed German convoys as they rushed supplies to the beleaguered troops in the Rzhev Salient. Their number grew in strength as local farmers and displaced soldiers joined their swelling ranks. Deep behind enemy lines, Ivan’s group was ordered to disrupt German communications in preparation of major Red Army offensives.
All such attacks faltered as the Germans held the line. As the Red Army was beaten back yet again, the Germans turned their attention to eradicating the partisans that were harassing their supply lines. Doggedly pursued by German cavalry and planes, Ivan’s group was reduced to only a few dozen. When orders came down to rescue downed paratroopers after a failed drop on Dorogobuzh, his partisan commander ordered Ivan and several others to the area.
While trying to untangle a soldier’s parachute, Ivan and three others were caught in the open by a German patrol. Ivan bolted into the woods, alone, only to find that his rifle was jammed. Armed with only a bayonet, he sought protection in a nearby village. After waking to the sound of gunshots, he dashed out the back of a cottage and straight into Nikolai and his partisan band. After being extensively questioned, Nikolai recognized Ivan’s last name from his time stationed in Leningrad during the 1930’s and welcomed him to his new “family:.
By September 1942, Ivan has lost everything he held dear: his civility, his education, and his loved ones. Although only 30, he looks considerably older. His young life has been dominated by war and death, upsetting the academic future he once envisioned for himself. Ivan still holds out hope that one of his brothers may be alive, but his eternal pessimism has tempered his enthusiasm. Having proved himself as a fighter and expert navigator, he earns Nikolai’s trust. Although his motives for remaining a partisan are hidden in the beginning, his quiet demeanor masks deep feelings. The introduction of one individual and her profound morality will bring all those emotions to the forefront.
At the conclusion of the First World War, the victorious Allied nations implemented the Versailles Treaty, setting back Germany economically, politically, and militarily. The peace terms imposed sweeping sanctions that severely limited the extent of Germany’s armed forces. Viewing this as an insult to their national pride, German military leaders began planning for rearmament in the mid-1920s. They aggressively sought to expand their arms production while under the watchful eyes of Britain and France.
Long-range, yet cumbersome artillery had dominated the battlefields of the 1918. Understanding that the future of warfare was in lightning-fast strikes against the enemy, German planners began to refine existing designs for horse-drawn guns. They imagined a lighter, faster gun that would be able to follow front-line troops into enemy territory. But by the early 1930’s, it was evident that a new design was needed.
Utilizing magnesium-alloy wheels, the re-designated 3.7cm PAK-35/36 began to replace older model infantry guns in 1935. It first saw action the following year during the Spanish Civil War and performed well in a variety of conditions.
Despite its success against lightly armored vehicles and tanks, the PAK-36 was outclassed by 1940. It was particularly ineffective heavier British and French tanks, and soon became all but impractical as an anti-tank gun. It fared no better on the Eastern Front, where the fast-moving Soviet T-34 could take countless direct hits from the PAK-36 without effect.
German PAK-36 crews soon named their weapon the “Door Knocker” for its ability to give away the weapons location by harmlessly bouncing rounds off a T-34’s armor. Countless Germans learned this nickname the hard way, leading to the gun being replaced by heavier and heavier anti-tank weapons. However, the PAK-36 could still achieve a kill shot against a T-34, but it required a near point-blank shot aimed at the tank’s side or rear armor.
These guns stayed in service until the end of the war and were frequently turned over the Germany’s allies fighting in the East. Although completely obsolete by 1942, the PAK-36 still proved effective against scout cars, reconnaissance vehicles and enemy infantry units. This weapon, as featured in The Vanquished, plays a crucial role as 5th Kompanie GrossDeutschland begins to see their fortunes in Russia turn against them, much like the parallel story of the PAK-36 anti-tank gun.
PAK-36 Wheeled Into Position, Production Still
Moving Into Positon, Production Still
Crew Ready in France, circa Summer 1940
Retiring After Battle, circa 1944
PAK-36 In Belgium, circa 1940.
PAK-36 Unlimbered From A 1939 Horch, Production Still
The German invasion of the Russia cost the Soviet Union tens of millions of lives. When Hitler’s forces rolled across the Polish border and through the steppes, they drove straight for the symbolic heart of Stalin’s empire: Moscow. Beaten back temporarily, the Germans entrenched themselves within striking distance of the capital, determined to deliver a knockout blow against their Bolshevist foe.
While history textbooks tend to focus on the climatic clash of massive armies on the Eastern Front, they oftentimes overlook the individual struggles of the citizens that were caught up in this destructive war. By no fault of their own, an invading army was thrust into their cities, villages, and countryside. With Red Army forces crumbling all around them, ordinary men and women joined the growing ranks of the partisan fighters. Instantly recognized by the Kremlin as an effective force to harass the Germans, political officers took in recruits and assigned them to partisan bands deep in enemy-held territory. Many of these Soviet patriots were well-educated and came from respected families, which makes their stories that much more compelling.
When one thinks of partisans, they instantly conjure up images of scraggy-looking men cradling machine guns and antiquated rifles. Hard-working peasants and serfs certainly filled the ranks of the Soviet guerilla fighters, but many more were cosmopolitan in their backgrounds. Such was the case with young Russian Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya.
Raised in traditional Eastern Orthodox family, Zoya had a relatively privileged upbringing that many others in the Soviet Union were not afforded. During primary school, she studied literature extensively, consumed with the works of Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare. Her family and friends noted that Zoya had an uncanny ability to live by the high ideals that she learned from her favorite authors.
Monument to Zoya in Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery
Bust of Zoya Outside Petrischevo
Zoya After Her Capture by the Germans
Zoya as a High School Student in Moscow
Still a high school student in Moscow in October 1941, she was seduced by the war fervor that swept through the city, desiring to do her part to avenge the deaths of thousands at the hands of the German invader. She quickly volunteered and was assigned to partisan unit 9903, under the direct command of The Staff of the Western Front, which coordinated military and civilian resistance in the countryside. Zoya was eager to serve her country and prove herself within the swelling ranks of new recruits. As she prepared to leave for the front, her mother tried to dissuade her 18-year old daughter from her decision. Her response was characteristic of many that volunteered to fight the Germans.
“What can I do when the enemy is so close? If they came here, I would not be able to continue living”.
Within weeks, Zoya and her fellow partisans had crossed into German-held territory and began mining major road intersections. They cut telegraph lines and harassed convoys as they passed through villages. Zoya proved herself as an effective fighter and garnered the respect and trust of the unit. She was hand-selected by her commander to infiltrate the village of Petrischevo, where a German cavalry unit was stationed, and burn the stables.
As Zoya was setting fire to one of the cottages, she was reported by a villager and captured by the Germans. Taken before their commander, she refused to give up the location of her fellow partisans. The next morning, she was paraded before the villagers with a sign around her neck that read “Arsonist”. As she stepped up to the gallows, Zoya remained defiant to the end, directly addressing the shocked crowd.
“Comrades! Why are you so gloomy? I am not afraid to die! I am happy to die for my people!”
She glared at the Germans and delivered her final words:
“You’ll hang me now, but I am not alone. There are two hundred million of us. You can’t hang us all.”
Word soon spread of the bold girl from Moscow that had given her life in defense of the Motherland. Pravda journalist Pyotr Lidov learned of the incident from a farmer and was impressed with Zoya’s story. Following the Red Army after it had re-occupied Petrischevo in January 1942, he interviewed locals that had witnessed Zoya’s execution and were equally moved by her defiance. Lidov completed his research and published his piece on January 27th, 1942. It was made its way to Joseph Stalin’s desk, who proclaimed: “Here is the people’s heroine!”
This started a nation-wide propaganda campaign and Zoya was posthumously awarded the order of The Hero of The Soviet Union. After the war, countless streets, town squares and buildings were named in honor of Zoya. A full-length feature film was released in 1944 and a bronze monument was erected not far from the site of her capture. Numerous Russian and international politicians have since have adopted her namesake.
Zoya’s story is tragically one of those frequently forgotten by history. The struggles of ordinary people: German, Russian, Partisan, Civilian, is what inspires the team here at The Vanquished. It is truly what makes the series stand out from the rest. Each person was impacted by this conflict in a unique way, and we seek to retell those struggles.
Anna Firstenberg started out as a very sweet and sheltered girl in the city of Allenstein, Germany. Her parents raised her to be polite to those around her while affording her a formal education of which many would be envious. She grew up dreaming of becoming a traditional German housewife and carrying on her family’s name. Self-preservation was the farthest thing from her mind, even as the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany edged closer towards war.
Anna at Home in Allenstein, 1936
Slowly, she began to take notice of Hitler’s persecution of the Jewish people. Laws were enacted throughout the 1930’s, depriving them of their basic rights as citizens. As the German Army swept through Europe from 1939-1942, she found herself displaced from country to country, and eventually sought sanctuary with a group of Russian partisans. Dropped into a world where violence was needed to survive, Anna must adjust the best she can.
She finds herself in a situation where everyone has to do their part to defeat the German invader. This eventually means going into combat, and if necessary, taking a life.
Anna is a woman who has had very little exposure or experience with firearms. Now she’s cleaning loading, and eventually shooting them at her fellow Germans. The very idea of taking a life, or even hurting someone, is almost unthinkable. However, it’s something she must make peace with in order to avoid the suspicion of her peers. Her German-Jewish past puts Anna in a precarious position where she must sacrifice her morality to save her life.
So we’ve finally cleared the last of the mud off of our vehicles, equipment, and uniforms from last weekend. It was a tiring and busy time, but we got some stellar footage with our leading actress, Maggie McDonnell. After scouring a MidWestern historical site for locations, we captured some compelling images for our Social Media sites. From scenes of Russian campsite at dawn, to Partisan fighters meeting with Red Army soldiers, going through our hundreds of pictures and countless video clips once again energizes our efforts. We strive for authenticity and challenge ourselves on a daily basis to replicate the sights, smells, and sounds of the Eastern Front. While this may be challenging to accomplish over sixty years later, our talented producers and cast have not only met our expectations, but exceeded them. We applaud their efforts.
A special thanks goes out to the members of the 95th Rifles reenacting group, who stood in as our fearless Red Army extras. Many of their ranks are filled with Russian reenactors, who helped us by adding some period dialogue to our scenes.
Richard Russo, Adam Bednar, and Maggie McDonnell took some time out of the busy filming to talk about how The Vanquished came to be. Take a look at the following interviews with some of the key people behind this exciting new miniseries!
We here at The Vanquished have been busy group over the past few days. Our production team is comprised of seasoned reenactors; we travelled to a major World War Two reenactment in Indiana over the weekend. Hundreds of Russian, German, British and American reenactors congregated at a historic farmhouse site to bring history to life. The Vanquished team was there, accompanied by the 5th Kompanie Grossdeutschland group, one of the premier German reenacting units in the Midwest. They were quite a sight for sore eyes in their “weathered” impression, which combined period equipment, uniforms, and LOTS of mud. They looked like they had walked straight out of an Eastern Front newsreel from 1942.
Leading actress Maggie McDonnell joined our ranks (pun intended?), showing grit and determination throughout our shooting schedule, something of which her character, Anna Firstenberg, would be very proud. Working with German cavalry, Russian reenactors and a professional film crew, we got some outstanding footage. With hundreds of pictures and several production interviews to go through, here’s a little taste of what we worked on over the weekend.
Anna & Ivan Discuss an Upcoming Attack
Executive Producer Joseph Tutkowski driving an original 1939 German Horch.
Executive Producer Rich Russo scouting locations.
Anna Readies Herself
Walking to Our Location Deep In the Woods
Learning To Operate the Russian Machine Gun
Our Russian Reenactors
A Red Army Soldier Takes Aim
A Russian Soldier Writes A Letter Home
5th Kompanie GrossDeutschland, “The Filthy Fifth”
Anna & Ivan Move Out
Thanks are in order to all the dedicated reenactors that assisted us during the two-day event. Once again, the enthusiasm they have displayed for the series is impressive. We look forward to working with all of you again in the near future! Anyways, take a gander at what we captured below. And check back soon, for the interviews will be up in no time!
From the moment that Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the respective propaganda machines of each nation came to frame the conflict in equally epic terms.
For Hitler’s Third Reich, the struggle was one to gain lebensraum, or living space, across the fertile plains of the Russian heartland. Once secured, this territory would be annexed and resettled by German farmers. The Nazi leadership similarly saw the military offensive as a chance to wipe Soviet Bolshevism off the map of Europe, all while continuing their persecution of the Jewish people in the East. And as the war dragged on for four long years, the German newsreel footage, declaring that ultimate victory was still at hand, churned out literally hundreds of news briefs.
When Stalin’s armies crumbled before the German tanks, those in Moscow were quick to launch a massive publicity campaign to re-energize the Soviet people. Though hundreds of thousands of Red Army soldiers were killed and captured in the opening weeks of the war, the civilian population rallied around their Motherland and mobilized themselves to fight a total war. Vowing to drive every last “Fritz” from their soil, Soviet newsreels showed triumphant columns of Russia’s sons marching out to the front, coupled with images of women and children building all manner of planes and other armaments. Despite horrendous losses, the war effort continued, unwavering, until the end of the war in May 1945.
The team at The Vanquished has gone through countless books, periodicals, and movies as our series develops. But what I find the most interesting (and visually stunning) is period newsreel clips. Sure, some of them are staged, and they are clearly one-sided, but they give us an insight into the kind of information that was being fed to the men on the front lines. On the Eastern Front, both the Russian and German alike would have surrounded by a whirlwind of violence, coupled with constant reminders that the very existence of their country was on the line. What impact would hearing this message, week after week, month after month, have on the soldiers? It no doubt must have weighed VERY heavily on their minds.
These are the profound kind of questions we seek to answer in The Vanquished.
Although I may be more than a tad late on this, I wanted to take a moment and tell all our Vanquished fans about a superb exhibit that I was fortunate to catch last fall in Chicago.
Windows On The War: Soviet TASS Posters At Home & Abroad (1941-1945) featured hundreds of original Russian propaganda posters from the Second World War. The exhibit ran from July – October of last year and showcased a collection prints that staff at The Art Institute of Chicago discovered when cleaning out a storage shelf in their prints department. The compelling images that I saw throughout the exhibit stand in stark contrast to the “clean” propaganda published by the Western Allies (American & England) during the war. Visually stunning and frequently graphic in nature, they were utilized by the Soviet High Command to rouse the citizenry against the “Hitlerite Invader” (one of many derogatory terms for the Germans).
Glory to the Belorussian Partisans!, August 21, 1944
Death for a Death, February 24, 1942
A Sacred Duty, December 22, 1944
A Belorussian Landscape, July 31, 1944
A Resounding Success, December 16, 1944
The Moralistic Wolf (A Fable), July 19, 1943
Hail Our Partisan Men and Women!, November 19, 1942
Repayment With Interest, September 18, 1941
A Blow to the Enemy’s Rear, January 26, 1945
In the immediate aftermath of the invasion, a collection of talented Russian journalists, cartoonists, reporters and writers gathered in Moscow and produced over 1,200 individual posters over the course of the war. Covering everything from the pitfalls of Nazi ideology, to the joint alliance with England and America, these towering posters dominated display windows in Russia’s major cities. They portrayed the enemy as morally-bankrupt barbarians that sought to destroy everything the Soviet state had built since the Revolution.
Of particular interest to the team at The Vanquished are the posters relating to partisan warfare. As entire armies crumbled before German tanks, Soviet leaders were quick to identify the partisan fighter as a key propaganda symbol. Tails of their exploits were publicized from St. Petersburg to Kiev. They were the first true Russian heroes of the struggle against Hitler’s empire.
Be sure to check out “Windows On The War” in the links section of the site. While the exhibit may no longer be in Chicago, its website, featuring dozen of compelling images, is definitely worth a look.